Who’s heard the expression, “You are only as strong as your weakest link?” This is true in many walks of life, but not more than when it comes to selecting the best circular saw blades.
You might have the latest circular saw, with all the bells and whistles, but unless you make the right blade choices, all those added features mean nothing.
Circular Saw Blade Types
There are many varieties of circular saw blades, and each one does something specific. Whether it is the number of teeth per inch or the design of the teeth, choosing the right blade for the task is crucial.
Flat Top Grind (FTG)
FTG blades have teeth that sit square to the saw plate. They cut through wood, much like a chisel. They rip the wood perpendicular to the grain and don’t produce clean cuts.
- Great for rip cuts.
- Hard wearing.
- Only fit for one purpose.
Alternate Top Bevel (ATB)
The teeth on an ATB blade have every second tooth angled in the opposite direction. The function of the ATB blade is to shear wood. These blades are all-purpose.
- General-purpose cutting.
- Great for joinery.
- Jack of all trades.
- Not suited for refined woodwork.
High-Angle Alternative Bevel (HI-ATB)
These blades are a modification of the ATB design. It all comes down to the bevel angle. HI-ATB blades have a bevel angle of between 25 and 38 degrees, compared to 10 to 20 degrees for ATB blades.
High-angle blades are ideal for cutting veneers and other sheet engineered wood used in cabinet making and bespoke furniture.
- Great for engineered wood.
- Cuts smooth lines.
- No chipping.
- Works with laminate.
- Prone to wear and tear.
Triple-Chip Grind (TCG)
TCG blades consist of alternating chamfered and raker teeth. The chamfered teeth rough cut, while the raker teeth clean up the cut. When sawing plastic laminate and Corian, as well as non-ferrous metals like brass and aluminum, this is the blade you should use.
- Cuts a wide variety of materials.
- Makes neat cuts.
- Better for non-wood materials.
- Not for general woodworking.
How To Choose Circular Saw Blades
There are several factors that make the perfect circular saw blade. You might be looking for all of these elements or consider some to be more important than others.
Size of Blade
Most circular saw blades come in 8, 10 or 12-inch sizes. By far, the latter two are the most common, but mini circular saws are growing in popularity, and so too are smaller blades. Some measure a mere 4.5 inches.
Type of Saw
The type of saw you own is crucial when it comes to matching up the replacement blade. Make sure the arbor fits the shaft of the saw. If you have a mismatched blade and saw, it could cause the tipping of the saw.
The number of teeth on a circular saw blade determines its use. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the tooth count per inch, the smoother the cut. It means that saws with a high TPI are suited to cutting materials like sheet metal and hardwood.
If the tooth count is lower, it indicates that the blade copes better with softer materials where the quality of the cut is less precise.
How Many Teeth Do I Need on My Circular Saw Blade?
The easy way to answer that question is to ask what material you intend to work with. If you are going with softwood and similar stock, fewer teeth are better. Harder materials need more teeth.
Here’s a handy chart:
|Type of Blade||TPI||Total Number of Teeth (Average)||Suitable For|
|Coarse||3 to 8||40 to 60||Lumber, hardwood, softwood, MDF|
|Medium||8 to 18||60 to 80||Lumber, hardwood, softwood, MDF, plyboard, sheet metals|
|Fine||18 to 32||80 to 120||Plyboard, frames, sheet material, non-ferrous metal|
Kerf refers to the width of the cut, which relates directly to the thickness of the cutting edge. A full kerf has an edge measuring 0.125 inches, while a thin kerf is 0.094 inches.
Full kerfs are more durable and better suited to cutting tougher material. However, a blade with a full kerf puts more strain on the saw motor. If the motor is underpowered, you run the risk of wearing out your saw.
A thin kerf suits finer detail work and creates less wastage. They also require less power as they put less strain on the motor. The downside is that these blades are prone to suffering greater damage as they are less durable.
Many popular brands like Freud and Bosch coat their blades in a special non-stick solution. It helps the blade slice through the material and reduces binding, which, in turn, reduces kickback.
Carbon steel caters to soft materials and plastics. They are the cheapest blades you can buy because carbon steel blades dull quickly due to their soft teeth. So, don’t expect them to stand up to the rigors of frequent use. There is an upside, in that carbon steel is flexible, so these blades are less likely to snap.
High-Speed Steel (HSS)
Compared to carbon steel blades, high-speed steel is super-durable. These blades retain their cutting edge better and perform at higher temperatures, meaning they are less likely to dull.
Typically, these blades can withstand heat up to 600 degrees centigrade and score between 62 and 66 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. Because they run at higher speeds, HSS blades will cut through MDF and hardwood with ease.
Cobalt Steel Blades
Cobalt steel is an alloy containing between 5 and 8 percent cobalt. It makes them robust and able to withstand even more punishment than the HSS blades. Cobalt steel blades also stand up to higher temperatures, making them hard-wearing and resistant to dulling. These blades outlast high-speed steel blades and wipe the floor with carbon steel blades.
The only downside is that they are brittle and prone to snapping.
Carbide-tipped blades are more expensive than the others because they are incredibly robust. They typically score 65 to 80 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale, making them among the hardest wearing blades you can buy. They cut through sheet metal, aluminum and even steel.
Like cobalt steel, carbide-tipped blades can be brittle.
Working Type (Purpose)
Carbon steel blades work better with softer material like softwood and lumber. You can get carbon steel blades that cut sheet metal and other non-ferrous metals, but the teeth are softer and dull very quickly.
Carbon steel blades are characterized by their lower teeth count, indicating that they are for softer workpieces.
Best For: Rip cuts, crosscuts, lumber, softwood, plastic, soft sheet metal.
High-speed steel and cobalt steel are super-durable. They cut through wood, steel, aluminum, plastics and composites like MDF. These blades handle heat better and are famed for their ability to maintain their cutting prowess.
High-speed and cobalt steel generally have a higher TPI and so cut through harder workpieces, leaving a neater line.
Best For: Crosscuts, hardwood, MDF, metal, plastic, smoother quality finishes.
Carbide-tipped blades are the most robust of the lot and are used to cut the hardest material, even concrete blocks. These teeth rarely need any attention, but when they do, no matter how often you sharpen them, they always come back to full sharpness.
Best For: Crosscuts, hardwood, plastic, metal, block concrete, smooth finishes.
Who Makes the Best Circular Saw Blades?
Robert Bosch founded the “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in Stuttgart in Germany in 1886. By 1901, Bosch moved into automotive supplies and developed a reputation for innovation (1).
Bosch is now an international manufacturer of tools and tool accessories and employs hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
Raymond DeWalt invented the radial arm saw to improve productivity in the sawmill, where he worked as the supervisor. That was in 1922, and since then, the company has grown into the powerhouse it is today (2).
DeWALT is recognized across the globe as an innovator of high-quality tools and accessories.
Founded in 1915, Makita started life as a motor sales, repair, and servicing company. By 1958, Makita had invented the first electric planer and shifted its manufacturing focus to power tools (3).
Today, Makita is a worldwide brand, famed for quality and reliability.
Irwin Tools was formed in 1885 by Charles Irwin, in Martinsville, Ohio. They patented the first Auger drill bit, and the rest is history. Fast forward to 1993, and Irwin Tools was acquired by the American Tool Company (4).
Irwin is still a leading light in the development of tool accessories.
The Best Circular Saw Blades of 2020
Circular saw blades may only come in one basic shape, but they have many varieties and uses. We found 7 of the best blades to make it easier for you to choose.
1. DeWALT 10-Inch General-Purpose Circular Saw Blade Set
It is fitting that the first blade to feature is a DeWALT. Famed the world over for quality and innovation, DeWALT delivers two blades for the price of one. This set contains a 60-tooth cross-cutting blade and a 32-tooth general-purpose blade.
Each blade is computer balanced to reduce vibration and improve accuracy, as well as the finish. The tungsten carbide teeth stay sharper for longer because they resist heat, which dulls so many lower quality blades.
These slim-kerf blades saw through hardwood, softwood, melamine, chipboard and plywood. So, if you are looking for a blade set to cover most of your cutting needs, this DeWALT product fits the bill.
The other excellent thing about this pack is the price. You get two blades for a lot less than some single blade prices.
- Comes as a pack of 2.
- Excellent general-purpose blade.
- 60-tooth fine finish option.
- Build quality issues.
|Used for||General-purpose crosscutting|
|Total teeth||32 and 60|
2. Makita A-03681 10-Inch Circular Saw Blade
This Makita blade is honed with 600 grit to get a mirror finish on the teeth. The teeth themselves are carbide, so they resist heat and hold their sharpness. The TPI is 80, so this blade is ideal for sawing through hardwood as well as plywood.
It means that you get less tear out and shredding, unlike other blades with a lower tooth count. The ultra-thin kerf complements the 5-degree hook teeth. So, if you want to make fine cuts that need no further reworking, this saw blade is ideal.
The other advantage of a thin kerf is there is less drag on the saw motor, which helps to preserve the life of your power tool, and you waste less material when cutting.
- 5-degree hook teeth.
- Carbide teeth.
- 80 teeth per inch.
- Thin kerf.
3. Bosch DCB1072CD Edge Circular Saw Blade
This saw blade cuts composite decking, so if it slices through this material, it will make light work of MDF. This Bosch blade has so many features. It has brute carbide teeth with upgraded C3/C4 micrograin formulation, which increases the blade’s resistance to damage, preserving the integrity of the cutting edge.
The teeth are a triple-chip grind, so they deliver a high-quality finish and eat their way through abrasive materials. The thinner kerf gives a faster cut and less resistance on the saw motor.
The only downside is that all this quality comes at a price. This blade costs double the price of the DeWALT blade set.
- Micrograin formulation.
- Ideal for composite material.
- Triple-chip grind teeth.
- Carbide teeth.
|Used for||Composites, MDF|
4. Irwin 7.5-Inch Metal Cutting Saw Blade
This Irwin blade is state-of-the-art for design and technology. It is laser-cut, with anti-vibration vents to prevent wobble and make your cuts straighter. The teeth have a special metal-cutting carbide that slices through steel and other non-ferrous metals.
It also means that the teeth stay sharper for longer, even when you are cutting harder material. Irwin also employs an anti-kickback design on the shoulders to make the cutting safer. It also reduces debris and sparks.
This 68-tooth blade is designed with professionals in mind and is the ideal blade for all your metal-cutting needs.
- Anti-vibration vents.
- 68 teeth.
- Anti-kickback shoulder design.
- Carbide-tipped teeth.
- Better for sheet metal.
5. Freud 7.25-Inch Thin Kerf Circular Saw Blade
This Freud blade employs a Hi-ATB teeth configuration with a thin kerf and 2-degree hook teeth to remove debris and put less strain on the saw motor. It also has laser-cut, anti-vibration slots to decrease the risk of sideways movement and increase the blade’s longevity and accuracy.
Freud manufactures its own brand of titanium cobalt carbide called TiCo high-density, which is a blend of carbide that is ideal for crosscutting to improve the performance. This blade has 60 teeth and is suitable for cutting melamine and other composite boards. It won’t tear out or shred the material as the blade slices through. And to help its passage through the stock, it has a Perma-Shield non-stick coating to give it a lubricity that other blades lack.
- Perma-Shield coating.
- Laser-cut anti-vibration slots.
- 60 teeth.
- Thin kerf.
|Material||Tungsten cobalt carbide|
|Used for||Melamine, plywood, laminates|
6. Oshlun SBW-080024 8-Inch Saw Blade
If you are looking for a blade that performs well and doesn’t leave you staring at the zero’s after the decimal point on the receipt, this could be the one. It is more of a general-purpose saw blade, but does lend itself to framing.
It has 24 teeth, a super-thin kerf, heat vents to keep the blade cool and expansion slots to prevent movement. It also has a unique anti-kickback design as a safety feature. Not bad, considering this blade is almost 5 times cheaper than the Freud.
The teeth have an aggressive hook angle and are constructed of carbide to decrease the effects that heat plays when dulling the cutting surfaces. It cuts through hardwood, softwood, particleboard and plywood.
- Carbide teeth.
- Anti-kickback design.
- Excellent price.
- Ideal for framing.
- Build quality issues.
- Warps easily.
|Used for||general-purpose, framing|
7. Porter-Cable 4.5-Inch Circular Saw Blade
This Porter-Cable saw blade is inexpensive, costing a fraction of the price compared to Freud and Bosch saw blades. It has 120 teeth, making it the ideal saw blade for cutting plywood and veneers. It has virtually zero shredding or tear out, which leaves extra-neat finishes.
Plywood is notorious for shredding and splintering when cut, but this blade slices so finely that it reduces the need for final finishing. The blade material is carbon steel, so don’t expect the same lifespan from this as the teeth dull faster than cobalt or carbide-tipped blades.
Also, because the blade is carbon steel, it doesn’t deal with extreme heat very well, causing the teeth to be dull. That said, for the price, it is excellent value for money.
- Excellent value for money.
- 120 teeth.
- Slices through ply without splintering.
- Carbon steel.
- Cheaply made.
- Dulls quickly.
|Used for||Plywood, laminate|
|Product||Best||Weight||Size (Inch)||Material||Used for||Total teeth||Max RPM|
|DeWALT Circular Saw Blade Set||General-Purpose||3 lbs||10||Tungsten carbide||General-purpose crosscutting||32 & 60||6,000|
|Makita A-03681 Circular Saw Blade||Hardwood||5 lbs||10||Carbide||Hardwood||80||5,870|
|Bosch DCB1072CD Edge Blade||Medium-Density Fiberboard||1.82 lbs||10||Carbide||Composites, MDF||72||6,000|
|Irwin Metal Cutting Saw Blade||Metal||13.8 oz||7||Carbide||Metal||68||4,000|
|Freud Thin Kerf Circular Saw Blade||Melamine||12 oz||7.25||Tungsten cobalt carbide||Melamine, plywood, laminates||60||10,000|
|Oshlun SBW-080024 8-Inch Saw Blade||Value For Money||8 oz||8||Carbide-tipped||general-purpose, framing||24||7,500|
|Porter-Cable Circular Saw Blade||Plywood||2.72 oz||5||Steel||Plywood, laminate||120||7,500|
How To Change a Circular Saw Blade
1. Disconnect the Power
Before you do anything, make sure you disconnect the power at the wall socket, or remove the battery.
2. Engage the Locking Mechanism
Press down on the arbor lock button. Now rotate the blade until it engages the locking mechanism.
3. Use the Blade Wrench
Use the blade wrench to remove the arbor nut. To loosen, turn the wrench in the same direction as the way the blade spins.
4. Retract the Blade Guard
Retract the blade guard and carefully extract the old blade. While the teeth may be dull, they can still cause severe cuts.
5. Insert the New Blade
Put the new blade onto the saw’s arbor, making sure that the teeth are facing the way it turns. The arrow on the saw’s blade guard will confirm if you have inserted the new blade correctly or not.
6. Tighten the Arbor Nut
Be careful not to overtighten the arbor nut. It makes it more difficult to loosen the next time you change the blade.
You are now ready to plug in the saw and start sawing.
How To Clean a Circular Saw Blade
Follow the steps above, and when the blade is free from the saw, place it in a washing up bowl of warm soapy water. You can use detergent or all-purpose cleaner if you like. Submerge the blade and leave it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
Grab a soft brush (a toothbrush will do the job) and gently scrub away any stubborn blemishes or marks. Holding the blade by the center hole, give it a shake in the water to dislodge any last remnants of dirt.
Now lift it out of the water and dry it with a soft cloth. Make sure every inch of the surface is dry, or corrosion will start and eventually destroy your blade.
Again, following the detailed steps above and reinsert the blade into the saw.
Coming Full Circle
Whatever the size or style of the circular saw you have, there is a blade to suit every purpose. Whether you are cutting plywood, metal, or lumber, the number of teeth on the blade is crucial to getting the best outcomes.
For finer finishes, look for a higher tooth count, while those satisfied with sawing through lumber should seek out a blade with fewer teeth. Remember, matching the blade to the workpiece is as vital as matching the blade to the saw.[/outro-section]